Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've moved to a new online me for the address!

Friday, August 08, 2008


*****(photo by pleasebreathe)*****

Dear You,

It used to be that I turned on my computer and found myself lazily drifting through emails and websites while frost licked over the windows and the cold settled deep into my bones, chased off by cups of chai and blankets. It used to be that I had tons to report about myself, my writing, my view of things from here but I've gone incredibly quiet. All I can say is that *life* has been happening. I walked through the neighborhood yesterday, counting the mailboxes covered in vines and the numbers of flowerbeds rampant with black-eyed Susans. The blooms distracted me but then this thought entered my head unannounced: transition is the most painful stage of (re)birth. This is where I am now in my off-line living.

The trouble with not being anonymous on your blog is that some stories aren't yours to share. Other people with faces and names are present and at some point writers must decide where their own tale ends and the other person's begins. When friends and families follow your online words, you choose them carefully or else risk them being misunderstood...and so it is. Honestly, I am not exactly a non-fiction writer. I am in love with fiction, infatuated with poetry and addicted to my *private* ink and paper journaling. True enough,I have published a few first-person essays--but I am generally not able to share the quiet innermost side of me in print (or online!) like so many of you brave souls are. But it all ebbs & flows and I know I will return to this space with stories yet to share. For now, all I can say is that I'm taking some space as summer winds down to tend to off-line things.

The summer I turned fifteen, I was linked up through my school's foreign language program with a boy named Adrian from Murcia, Spain. Through that whole long confusing season, we exchanged letters about our daily lives. He was living alone with a single mother surrounded by large families with fathers who smoked cigarettes and sat on their terrazas, watching women pass by. I was living with two parents on the edge of their divorce and knew something about how strange and bittersweet and lovely life was for both of us. There was something about the way my heart would thrum like a locomotive in my chest when I saw his spidery handwriting and the crooked row of stamps. School began and our correspondence eased winter, my parents split and I found a boyfriend who didn't take kindly to letters from a strange boy on the other side of the sea. No matter that they were always polite and friendly without even one trail of xoxoxo's along the signature or perfume pressed into the page. Lately, I miss that pen and paper exchange. Since I have been so inspired by the Be Brave project, I am going to put myself out there a little bit and say that if you (yes, you) are interested in working out some sort of letter exchange, please let me know...maybe an "Adrian" is out there somewhere with some fine stationery and crooked cursive stories to tell?

I am, otherwise, going to be headed mostly off-line from this blog for right now. Take good care of yourself and thank you, always, for reading along.

Monday, July 28, 2008


L. and I went to a psychic a few days ago, just for old time's sake. I was curious...right until the woman gripped my hands in hers and said, "I need you to think of two areas of your life where you have questions."
I closed my eyes and gave my questions their silent space.
"Okay," she said, "Now I will read your questions with my mind while you say them out loud."
Wait a minute...what was that?
Hold on, if all I have to do is get people to *speak* their questions while I read their minds, naturally, I can "see myself" having a new career as a psychic very soon. Just think of the stories I could tell...
"Damn it," L. complained sitting in the dim bar just after, "That was the biggest waste of money in my life!"
"Do we really want to know our future anyway?" I asked her, "Sometimes I think people never would make it through the things that happen to them if they'd have seen them coming. Think about it."
I felt the divide in me...the torn longing to know where I will be in the future and the careful respect to stay patiently in the dark, evolving. Would I really have wanted to hear it if that woman leaned in close and whispered, "I know the rest of your life...I see it"? I would have wavered. I would have been uncertain if I even wanted to be told what was coming next.
L. shrugged and tossed her blonde hair behind her tanned shoulder, "I heard about another lady, though. This one works with the police and everything. Maybe we should give that a go just for the hell of it."
I paused for a full breath, then said, "Well, let me know if you do." I peeled the label from the slick bottle with my fingernail and sipped my beer, "Who knows...maybe I'll tag along."

Thursday, July 24, 2008


He gruffly asked the reason why, sitting behind the desk looking over the designs I gave him to consider.
"It has meaning to me," I said boldly in spite of his half-sneer and the devil tattooed over his neck.
I guess that seeing girls like me walk into the shop provokes an instantaneous eye-rolling wonder. Another chick who's gonna want butterflies, birds or flowers, I can almost hear him think...what about spiderwebs, flying crosses and skulls? I proved a disappointment, but a paycheck nonetheless and so he asked me to give him a moment to set up and sketch it out. It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him the details of what the tattoo meaning was, but he vanished down a hallway before I got the chance.
My sister whispered, "Do you think he'll let me come in with you?" like she was in fourth grade and terrified of being rapped on the knuckles by the teacher for talking in class.
"I'm sure," I said.
"He seems, um...intense."
"He does," I agreed, listening to the angry buzzing sound of a tattoo already in progress nearby.
"Doesn't that sound freak you out?"
"No...not really," I told her, but then the noise ramped up and I thought twice about it.

He came out and led us to room with a curtain, then he set up his artist's palette of black and white, indigo and palest robin's egg blue, a deep jewel green...
"You ready?" he asked.
"I am."
He set the stencil on my upper right shoulder and damn near smiled when I complimented its positioning in the mirror. He rested his gloved hand on the hollow of my spine and let it linger just a moment.
"We're going to start. If you need me to take any breaks, just let me know."
I nodded and he dipped the tattoo gun in the ink, "How long since your last tattoo?" he asked me somberly, and I flashed on twelve years of Catholic school and the priest obscured by a lacy wooden screen and that disembodied, "How long since your last confession?" and I almost laughed aloud.
"'s been thirteen years?" I said, "I almost forget what it feels like."
Again his hand rested on my skin, "You'll remember pretty quick."

He was right.

My sister got him talking about movies and comic book heroes and I counted beads on the japa mala hanging from my right wrist. My back felt that jagged burning a tattoo creates...a half-pain, half-irritation that made me sweat and tremble slightly. I found myself wanting to confess to this tattoo guy...wanting to tell him why I picked this design and why I needed the visual touchstone to remind me not to give up on pursuing my wishes and dreams...I wanted to confess to him right there how hard the last year of my life was, how much pain and uncertainty has plagued me and why I was *compelled* on my birthday to open the next year up on my own terms.

Instead, I held my silence. But, my confession would have been something like this: the dandelion clock (gone to seed) reminds me of childhood, innocence and a youthful perspective...they make me think of impermanence and non-attachment, the fleeting nature of time and circumstances...blowing on a dandelion is the act of putting wishes "out there". This next year of life is *all* about doing just that for me. I did ask him to put three seeds off of the dandelion, undulating through the "air" of my skin. Three for three wishes and for my three children, who represent to me the best of my hopes for the future...

A week later, my skin is still scabbed over and healing. But I couldn't be happier with the gift I gave myself to celebrate this new year & everything after...

microscopic photo c/o Jason Ruck
click to watch DANDELION

Thursday, July 10, 2008


are flooded with light. High summer skies and an abundance of sunflowers greet me whenever I slow down enough to notice them. Things are changing for me lately. So much happening that I almost cannot get the words out to express how incredibly *different* it all feels.

Since I last shared here, my "baby" turned five. She is growing like the leggy stem of a sunflower...taller by the day and now aware, as she said, that "At five, people know some stuff." I look at her and feel the Earth shifting underfoot. A big yellow bus is going to take this girl away into elementary school in a month's time. And, if all goes as it should, I will be spending my days back in high school...this time, though, instead of being the dreamy girl scribbling poems in the back of her science notebook, it will be as a teacher--getting my students to scribble poems in the backs of theirs. But, nothing is certain yet. I've been interviewing and "putting it out there" and waiting to hear. Still, it feels like an excited variety of waiting, not laden down with anxiety about where I'll be...but curiosity, since I know I'll land somewhere! This sense of knowing is just one inner shift for me...

My "oldest" has started her emergence from childhood into adolescence, now standing just a handful of inches shorter than me. I looked back through old photos of even just a year or two ago and it is scarcely the same girl. As the mother of an almost twelve-year-old, though, what else can I expect but transformation? My boy hasn't had a haircut in ages...when I tried to encourage one he smiled that mega-watt grin of his and said, "Mom, haircuts are for school. I'll get one when summer's over." So he looks up at me through a curtain of gold hair over his blue eyes and my heart swells with admiration for his his open-minded summer l-o-v-e.

Blueberries are raining off of the bushes in the yard and the lavender is intoxicating bees and butterflies for miles around. I've started the harvesting early because there are so many blooms and the growing season ahead is long yet. With the tender flowers, I am making ribbon sachets, lavender lemonade, and bundling other clusters for drying into the homemade incense I burn all winter long--literally breathing in the summer even when the branches are bare outside and frost licks over the windowpanes.

Creatively, I am drunk like the bees are...spiraling over words and drinking them down as pleasurable gifts, not as workhorse tools. It means that nothing is flowing in a linear way. Now, whenever I read about writers discussing their "process" in nebulous and foggy ways it drives me mad. Tell me what you really do...I want to say, don't speak in circles--speak in straight lines. But I suddenly am in a creative space where inspiration comes in waves and curved edges...nary a direct "line" to be found. I cannot tell you *what* I am doing or *how* I am doing, but can only say *that* I am doing and, for me, that's good enough. I also had a deep thrill to see my work in the museum exhibit I mentioned in my last post. It was just beautiful...I also was beyond happy to be mentioned in the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. Admittedly, it was just an announcement of my grant win--but since I have read this magazine with the fervor of a religious novice for years and years, my name in beautiful bold print made my summer. It really did.

In one week's time, I will celebrate my birthday. I am expecting a whole year of continued metamorphosis for myself...and I plan to kickstart my wishing year by participating in this inspiring project of Jessie's:

If you are reading this and feel motivated to join in I hope you will...go ahead & Be Brave, you know you want to.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I have been a woman lost in words so far this summer and this disjointed, rambling post may reveal as much...

Lost in:
*my students' words: autobiographies--including fascinating stories about childhood experiences in Kenya, Japan, Uganda and, um, New Jersey...metacognitive analyses--every bit as exciting as they sound...novel evaluations--on this book.
*novelists' words: including books already read this summer by these authors to name just a few.
*and of course, occasionally, I've been finding my way into my own.

What it means is that my blogging is quiet--but *life* is anything but. Over at ReadWritePoem this week they offered the challenge of making a poem out of a limited set of words offered here. I decided to play and wrote the haiku above--thinking of the sultry heat of the season and all that it calls up for me.

Tomorrow is the new moon...dark sky, but I am already thinking of my full moon birthday on the 18th and how fitting it feels given the year I've had to celebrate my day and night flooded with light. If my words here are scarce between now and then, it is because I am working, grading, chasing fireflies with the wildies and pouring my heart out into notebook after notebook with an unquenchable thirst for fine black ink.

As an aside, this is the latest article about me, which just ran in one of our local newspapers:

Author offers summer migrations

By Patricia E. Lang
Thursday, June 19, 2008 12:43 PM EDT

Author C. Delia Scarpitti read from her new novel and discussed how motherhood, family and creativity intersect at the Arts Alliance earlier this month.

“As a writer, I strive to create that which will give rise to inquiry and self-exploration in my audience,” said Scarpitti, winner of the Division of the Arts 2008 Emerging Artist Fellowship for excellence in fiction for her novel “Migration Summer.”

Scarpitti’s reading on June 1 was a celebration of the book, which the author said is almost finished after years of work.

About two dozen people came out to her Scarpitti read, including members of two writing groups, the Lunar Poets and an invitational fiction critique group.

Bouquets of flowers were given to Scarpitti and people listened attentively to “Migration Summer,” a story of a family of four who become torn apart by their secrets and silences.

During one particular summer of migration the truth comes out and shatters the individual mental walls that that family members built up to protect their feelings.

Scarpitti is the mother of three children. She said she considers her novel, and her other writings, the ghostly fourth child she is raising.

“I’ve watched my creative self develop as my children have grown up,” she said.

At the Arts Alliance, Scarpitti talked about how her three children believe in her and act as a built-in support system.

Caring for her children and caring about her writing forced her to develop a creative discipline, she said.

“They sped up my evolution as a writer,” she explained. “They deepened my perspective.”

When asked what advice she would give to other writers, Scarpitti said she would encourage them to keep a daily notebook to keep track of all the ideas that come to mind during the day.

The Post, 2008

Seeing myself in the newspaper again--being acknowledged for what feels like *such* an incredible and invisible effort on Migration Summer continues to bolster my creative spirits. But, to you, I will confess the following: I picked up my manuscript from the shelf this past week to give it another read-through as a part of my revision process...and I had to wipe a thick layer of dust from the back cover. Yes, dust! That is how long it has been sitting, quietly waiting for me to pick it up and resume my jagged-edged editing.

Then, in my mailbox, a stack of invitations arrived for The Museum of American Art where an exhibit is about to open with myself and the other fellowship award winners featured until October. The event is next week and they asked me to be "ready to discuss my work's progress of late". I'll have to bite my tongue about the dust, won't I? But the truth is I feel as though I am in a quiet creative space as well. A dreamy space...a visioning space. I am plotting my next moves even if I haven't actually put them into play. Or, maybe this is just my fancy way of stalling. Time will tell.

The creative life sometimes gives us exactly what we need, though, and I cannot help but to think that wake up calls for me to get moving again are finding me everywhere: the article, the exhibit and, finally, a message in my email inbox this morning letting me know that sections of Migration Summer have been accepted for publication in an online magazine as a serial. The indulgent early-summer days of stalling are yielding to an essential time of ripening and fruition. Another day opening now...another opportunity to become a woman lost in the wild thicket of my own words, love and longing for language trailing behind my pen in dark coursing rivers.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Lately, I have fixated on the June sky...noticing it at odd angles, with telephone wires and barbed wire fences, with the saturated colors only summer can bring.

June means the sunlight has withered my eager clematis vine and has forced such a frequent watering routine for the strawberries as to almost be futile...I swear the water dissipates in clouds of steam before ever reaching their tender roots. The skin peels on my back from a bad burn I've already had on a day where I forgot the sunblock as I herded up the kids to get them out, out, out--running late and inadvertently baring my over-exposed spine to the sun. Clouds of clover rise up through the lawn and I find myself looking for four-leaved omens of good fortune everywhere, vowing to press them into the pages of my journal. But, as of yet, none have been found.

June means I stay awake...reading books in low-light or sitting on the deck, counting stars. Actually, I am not reading books so much as consuming them, inhaling the pages and sighing when the writer gets the image just right...when the character takes a hold of me and sings in my blood...when the plot veers off unexpectedly and I hold my breath until the words circle back around and land just as they should, so much better than I guessed. I am teaching a roomful of adult students critical reading and thinking until late-July and they resist words--"hate reading"--shocked by the idea that I read several books per week, several genres at once. "How much TV do you watch?" I ask them, and they rattle off names of their favorite shows. "That's the difference," I say, "I really don't watch TV."

June means I read...I take mental pictures, like the one of the girl today on Main--peroxide blonde and black-root hair, tattoos lacing over every exposed inch of skin, torn fishnet stockings and a red skirt giving me the softest, sweetest smile as she passed by the window...all innocence and spun-sugar. I had to smile back and name her on my pages and create her morning in full detail, a complex character walking right into my fiction-net mind.

June also means I have the reverse of writer's block, which sounds enviable right until you actually experience it. I am drowning in stories, more than I can ever get down on paper. I sketch them out in a form of shorthand on the backs of envelopes and in corners of my writing notebooks. Each new idea seems like the one I want to follow...but, it is really just a way of dodging the last of this revision work...really just a way of protecting the book I've already nearly done by holding it close to my heart instead of sending it out into the world. I am stalling...I am flirting with possibilities. Remaining incomplete has held me back but kept the writing "safe".

Lately, I have fixated on the June sky because flight is the only option for my writing life...motion...movement. That endless blue burning down, cut with wires and fractured clouds, constantly changing...this is the new guide for my creative self. I need to break from this paper nest though it keeps me from storm clouds and sudden sharp claws, safe from sleek ones stalking in high summer grass. I have to let this fascination lead me out of my comfort zone. There is no other choice now that I have two fully-feathered wings of my own and an uncharted expanse of sky...
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